Can discount stores save you money?

HOUSTON During Tuesday's segment, we compared the prices at Kroger, HEB and Randall's to find a $1.98 difference between the total prices on 11 common animals. But what about the discount stores -- are they cheaper than the grocery stores?

We bought the exact same eleven products -- same size, same brand -- at Target and Wal-Mart to see how their prices would stack up against each other and against the grocery stores.

"We want to do everything we can as far as providing services and as providing prices," said Barry Mosley from Target.

The retailer's biggest competition is Wal-Mart, so Target employs what they call "competitive shoppers" to scope out Wal-Mart's prices.

"We price comparison as many as 25,000 items over the course of a year," Mosley said. "We make those adjustments in our stores so we are competitive with our pricing."

But are the prices between the two big box giants really competitive?

A box of Cheerios at target was $2.79 and at Wal-Mart it was $2.42 -- a $0.37 difference. A can of Del Monte green beans was $0.87 at Target, while at Wal-Mart it was $0.67 -- $0.20 cheaper.

Overall, Target's prices are comparable to Wal-Mart's. Breyer's ice cream is $3.44 at Target, while it's $3.50 at Wal-Mart. A ten-pack of Mission tortillas is $1.74 at Wal-Mart, but at Target's price was $1.49.

The biggest price difference found was on a pound of Oscar Meyer ham. At Target it was $5.49, while at Wal-Mart it $4.47 -- more than a dollar difference.

After adding it up, the grand total at Wal-Mart is $23.39. Target's total price was $25.19, which shows a difference of $1.80.

While Wal-Mart was less expensive in this case, shopper Laura Gonzalez admits she doesn't mind paying a little more to shop at Target since she believes the quality is better.

"I'd rather spend -- even if it was ten cents more -- I'd still rather buy from Target before I would buy it from Wal-Mart," she said.

So how do the discount stores measure up to the Houston-area grocery stores? In the end, Wal-Mart came in first place, HEB was second at $24.68, Target is third at $25.19, Randall's was fourth at $26.23 and Kroger's was last at $26.66.

These results didn't surprise shopper Teresa Lin, who shops several grocery stores.

"I think it actually varies between which week you are shopping and which item you are buying," she said. "There is not one place that has the best price all the time."

While we did purchase some items on sale at both stores, keep in mind that both Wal-Mart and Target price-match ads. That means if you bring any ad from any grocery store that shows a lower price on a product, they will match it.

And though there was only $3.27 between the lowest and highest totals of the items we purchased, remember that we only purchased 11 items. A whole cart of groceries could certainly add up.

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